12 Best Movies of 1984

1984 was a great year for movies with some excellent commercial and critical successes being screened for a global audience. Some of the finest directors in the industry showcased some very novel ideas this year and while it was, in general, a great year for cinema lovers. Here’s the list of top films of 1984:


12. Beverly Hills Cop

Directed by Martin Brest, this film stars Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley a young and reckless detective from Detroit who goes to Beverly Hills, unauthorized, to try and solve his friend’s murder. The film which was critically acclaimed for its humor and handling of the script also happened to shoot Murphy to international stardom and became the highest grossing film in 1984.

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11. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Directed by Wes Craven, this film is a cult classic in the slasher genre and introduced the world to what would eventually become a very profitable franchise. The antagonist Freddy Kreuger stalks and kills teenagers in their dreams and thus in reality. The expert way in which the film toyed with the audience perception of dream and reality by pushing the narrative boundary to a blurry indistinction marks a significant moment in horror cinema and makes this one of the finest movies of 1984.

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10. The Karate Kid

A martial arts movie directed by John G Avildsen, this film follows a generic underdog story that audiences have come to love in case of sports movies. Avildsen’s tried and tested formula in Rocky was a resplendent success here and Karate Kid went on to become critically acclaimed and even attained cult status. The story follows Daniel a boy who is initially bullied by Johnny of the Cobra Kai dojo, entering a karate tournament and eventually defeating his opponent and earning his respect, but at the same time learning valuable lessons about life and the philosophy of karate. The film went on to mark the beginning of a franchise that still continues to grow.

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9. This Is Spinal Tap

A rock music mockumentary film, the critical success of the film lies in the effortless capture and subsequent parodying of the lifestyle of rock bands including music pretensions and also managing to take a jibe at the way rock documentaries were made. The dialogues were as much ad-libbed as scripted and the film eventually went on to be deemed as having extreme cultural significance and is now preserved by the National Film Registry. Perhaps, the readers might be interested to know that this is the only film that IMDB rates out of 11 instead of 10 because of the phrase coined in the movie where the amplifier knob was shown to go up to 11 from zero.

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8. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Directed by Steven Spielberg, this film is the second installment in the franchise. Harrison Ford reprises his role as the titular character. One of the most violent films in the franchise, the story circles around Hinduism and the Thugee cult, a notorious gang which worshipped the Goddess Kali and was involved in acts of violence. The film itself is wonderfully made and I suppose an Indian audience would have an added interest in the film although the film has been criticized for its portrayal of India and Hinduism.

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7. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, this is often considered as one of the best-animated films of all time. Miyazaki truly is a talent beyond comparison when it comes to animated films and Studio Ghibli is a testament to the fact. However, this film was made before the founding of Studio Ghibli though often considered to be a creation of the same. The plot revolves around a post-apocalyptic world where a young princess faces a challenge as a kingdom tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a species of mutant insects. Dealing with complex adult themes shown simply through an expert animation, this is one of the finest films of the year.

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6. Terminator

This year saw the birth of the cult franchise Terminator. Created by James Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd, the franchise follows a bitter and long battle between Skynet’s artificial intelligence and John Connor’s resistance forces. The first film sees Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, John’s mother to cripple the revolution. An engrossing film, it was received well critically and commercially.

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5. Blood Simple

This film remains very close to my heart as it marks the directorial debut of the very talented Coen Brothers. The film title is taken from Dashiell Hammett’s ‘Red Harvest’ and denotes the state of confusion and blood frenzied state of the people. Hammett’s story and the brother’s film share a strikingly similar characteristic wherein the plot devolves to complete violence for any semblance of order to be restored all participants must suffer. Thus, Ray, the cheating bartender is killed, Marty the man who had his wife followed is killed and the detective himself who did the following and consequent murders is killed. A brilliantly told tale with twists and equal cinematographic prowess, the Coen brothers set the benchmark for the kind of films they’d be making right from the start.

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4. Once Upon A Time In America

Directed by Sergio Leone, music by Enrico Morricone, starring Robert De Niro. That’s a recipe for success right there, and this film lives exactly up to expectations. Hailed as one of the greatest gangster movies ever made, the plot focuses on the lives of a few children in the Jewish ghetto as they get indoctrinated into a life of crime. Their rise in the American society is a statement on how the social atmosphere was at that time and the plot moves with the help of themes and motifs like friendships, love, and betrayal. An expertly told tale, this film is a must watch for anyone who has an interest in gangster movies, or just good films in general.

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3. Ghostbusters

Directed by Ivan Reitman, this is also perhaps Bill Murray’s most popular film. A beginning of a lucrative and acclaimed franchise, this film is one of the bulwarks of Hollywood movies. A team of parapsychologists combats ghosts in New York City and the plot while straightforward is written very well and humorously, earning it a spot on many illustrious lists as one of the well-made comedies. The theme song will forever be immortalized perhaps and being one of the biggest movies of 1984, this definitely deserves our attention.

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2. Paris, Texas

Directed by Wim Wenders, this road movie is one of the most touching and beautiful films I have ever seen. The Cannes winner follows the story of an amnesiac man who reemerges from the desert after four years and reunites with his brother. Eventually, he is reunited with his son and then the two undertake another road trip to find his long-missing wife. A trying tale of family reunions and how deep emotional attachments and roots run, Wenders captures the human condition perfectly – a delicate balance between the desire to be free and the desire for companionship. The film is besides being one of the best movies of 1984, perhaps one of the finer films that we have in the world.

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1. Amadeus

Directed by Milos Forman, the film understandably revolves around the life of the legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The plot follows the vendetta between Mozart and Salieri in the court of Emperor Joseph II. The film was critically and commercially acclaimed and won numerous awards including Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The accolades this film alone can boast of is tantamount to its brilliance, but to couple it with the subject matter and Mozart’s music which features heavily in the film, and together it becomes a trifecta of irresistible cinema viewing experience.

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